Why you still use Excel to keep CA logs

We’re supposed to be in a modern era where the design team and construction team share a single collaboration platform which meets everyone’s needs.

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Large construction firms are typically standardized on one construction management platform across their entire project portfolio making it impractical for them to use a different system for just one project.

An owner or design firm may be standardized on one platform too (Newforma, Unifier, E-builder etc.) but the scale of the contractor’s management requirements during the construction phase mean even if the owner or designer has mandated use of their platform, the contractor’s will, by necessity, still be primary, with information copied to other platforms.

There is no reasonable choice but to choose the general contractor’s management system as the primary shared system during construction.


This has a number of drawbacks for the design team:

  • Contractor systems are created for contractors, and are generally not a streamlined experience for designers.

  • The settings for the system and the data in it are controlled by the contractor (for example, the method for calculating turn-around times for RFIs and submittals). The project logs tell a story, and on the contractor’s system the story is told from the contractor’s point of view.

  • When the project is complete (or any time the site administrator chooses), the contractor’s shared site shuts down, at which point the design firms must rely on the records in their possession (which hopefully have been copied to their network and filed in an organized way).


We’re supposed to be in a modern era where the design team and construction team share a single collaboration platform which meets everyone’s needs. However architects and engineers often end up managing their CA logs in Excel and communicating via email, saving attachments and transmittals in carefully named network folders, and copying information as required to and from the contractor’s system.

Over the long term the design firm’s records are a combination of manually organized (and likely incomplete) folders on their network plus a variety of active or inactive project websites controlled by others.

Do you have this challenge too?